We commonly get questions about the differences in various hearing solutions. It’s important to note that there are different options based on individual conditions and needs. The same solution isn’t right for everyone. While Oticon Medical currently specializes in bone anchored hearing systems, we’re here to help you navigate your options.
Today, we’re going to look at the differences between Cochlear Implants and Bone Anchored Hearing Systems. To do so, we brought in Oticon Medical’s Clinical Regional Manager and one of our top Audiologists, Alison Sabbar.
One of the biggest differences between Cochlear Implants and Bone Anchored Hearing Systems is that they are indicated for different hearing conditions. Bone Anchored Hearing Systems are indicated for conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness. Cochlear Implants are for severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
These types of hearing losses are different, so the candidates for bone anchored devices and Cochlear Implants are also different.
A Cochlear Implant candidate typically has severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Their cochlea has limited function and the candidate has poor speech discrimination ability. They also receive limited benefit from traditional hearing aids. The cochlear implant electrode is surgically implanted into the cochlea. An external speech processor delivers sound to the internal device. The electrode will send the signals directly to the auditory nerve. The cochlear implant enables the recipient to hear sound and it improves their speech discrimination ability to varying degrees depending on the individual recipient.
Candidates for Bone Anchored Device have conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness. The individuals with conductive or mixed hearing loss have functioning cochleae. Their middle ear is not functioning normally and this prevents sounds from getting from the outer ear to the cochlea. It is a matter of getting the sound to the cochlea so that the patient can hear. The device is making use of the individuals existing cochlear function. These individuals have good speech discrimination ability once the sound gets to the cochlea. The bone anchored system stimulates the cochlea through vibration via bone conduction.
Individuals who have Single Sided Deafness have one ear that does not have a functioning cochlea and one ear that is functioning normally. These individuals wear a sound processor on the side with hearing loss. The sound processor picks up sound from the side with hearing loss and sends the sound across the skull to the normal cochlea via bone conduction. This allows the individual to hear sounds from both sides of their head as opposed to hearing sound from only the side of the head with the normal hearing ear. This enhances communication ability for the listener particularly in difficult listening situations and noisy environments.
The evaluation process for either a Bone Anchored Hearing System or a Cochlear Implant is similar. Both start with a visit to an Audiologist. The candidate receives a hearing test to determine the degree and type of hearing loss. Based on the degree of hearing loss, the Audiologist will suggest a solution. In both cases, the patient needs a medical evaluation by an Ear Nose and Throat Physician who implants the device. The patient also needs an orientation to the device and needs to be counseled about realistic expectations of the benefits of the device.
A Neurotologist, or Otologist is an Ear, Nose and Throat physician who has additional specialized training working with the ear. They typically implant Cochlear Implants and Bone Anchored Hearing Systems. Many general ENT physicians also implant Bone Anchored Hearing Systems.
Many times with Cochlear Implant candidates, the individual has a sense of urgency for a solution to the hearing loss due to the degree of hearing loss and impact the hearing loss is having on their daily living. There are also times that a person’s hearing loss has progressed so gradually throughout the years that the individual may not realize how much difficulty they are really having. Someone with Single Sided Deafness or even mixed or conductive hearing loss may have more options to choose from to improve their hearing. They may also think they can manage or get by with their hearing loss. In rare cases, a bone anchored hearing system user may become a Cochlear Implant candidate if they lost the hearing in their good ear.
In either case, your first step should be to consult with an Audiologist. He or she will walk you through the process of determining what kind of hearing loss you have. Then, you and your Audiologist can work together to make the decision of which solution is right for you. Want to set up an appointment today?
Looking for quick facts on bone anchored hearing and Oticon Medical? This blog post is for you!